The Hill Capital of Sri Lanka nestling among the misty hills in the central region of this paradise island is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Kandy (also known as Maha Nuwara, “Great City”) was designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, and today it is an administrative, commercial, cultural, and educational centre that attracts pilgrims and tourists alike. Kandy is located in the Central Highlands (elevation: 1,640 feet) on the Mahaweli River and on the shore of an artificial lake that was constructed in 1807 by the last Kandyan king, Sri Wickrama Rajasinha. The lake at the center of the city with a traditional artistic feature is attractive and keeps the environment cool. The banks of the lake cover with variety of trees of which some are historic. Naturally, the narrow path along the Lake has become the popular walking stretch of the city dwellers and lovers.
Temple of the ToothTemple of the sacred Tooth of Relic (Dalada Maligava)
From the 13th or 14th century, Kandy became a centre for both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, the religion’s two major sects. Among the most picturesque cities in the island, the importance of Kandy is mainly due to it being the home of the Temple of the Tooth – which houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha.
Visit the Temple of the tooth at different times of the day (6am, 10am & 6pm) to view ceremonies by the resident monks, just before sunset is a particularly beautiful time to view the gold leafed temple. Remember modest dress (long skirt, trousers or a sarong worn over shorts) is a must to enter the temple. Here visitors can observe the ancient traditions of drumming and sacred chanting in honor of the Tooth Relic, being performed several times each day.
Royal Botanical Garden
Situated less than four miles from Kandy on the Colombo road The Royal Botanic Gardens Peradeniya is well known for its large variety of plant life. The garden-a paradise for nature lover- was built in 14th century during the reign of king Vikrama Bahu III. This is where the British first experimented with grooving tea in Sri Lanka after the coffee blight had wiped out their plantation crops. The best-known attraction of the garden is the orchid House, which houses more than 300 varieties of exquisite orchids. A spice garden located here gives you a first hand account of the trees and plants used in the traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
This is the heart of the Kandy city and is the most famous landmark of the city. A stroll around the lake gives you and outstanding view of the temple and is a good 40-60 minute walk. Also hire a boat to take a ride out on the lake. At dusk fruit bats swoop across the lake from the surrounding trees. Ride out to view the former Sinhala queen’s bathing island, Ulpenge, in the middle of the lake.
See Sri Lankan dancing at the Kandyan Art Association on the lake diagonally opposite the temple of the tooth every evening. The focus is on Kandyan dance and drumming which was originally preformed for the kandyan kings.
The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage
This Orphanage was started in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife on a 25-acre coconut property on the Maha Oya river at Rambukkana. The orphanage was primarily designed to protect the orphaned baby elephants found in the jungle. When it was set up, there were only five baby elephants, and today, Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is the home for about 60 elephants, out of which many are baby elephants found, abandoned or orphaned in the wild. They are being cared, fed and trained by the wild life authorities. The best time to visit is during the feeding times, when one will have the opportunity of seeing the baby elephants being bottle-fed. Also could accompany the elephants to a river close-by and see the elephants having their daily bath. Daily Bath is a must see activity, this is the most attractive event from all. A prior notice is given to the onlookers before the elephants are led out from the orphanage where they bath in Maha Oya which is about 150 meters form the orphanage. The view of how they go in a line to the Maha Oya is magnificent.
The other attraction is the Feeding Time, where all the baby elephants are bottle fed by powdered milk using feeding bottles. at 09.15 am , 01.15 pm and 05.00 pm in the evening.
Victoria Golf Course
The Victoria Golf course spanning over 517 acres of lush green land is surrounded by the blue waters of the Victoria Reservoir against the backdrop of the Knuckles mountain range. Located 45 minutes away from the city of Kandy, 18 hole Championship Course designed by Donald Steele has been rated amongst the 100 most beautiful courses in the world by Golf Digest.
The Kandy Perahera
The Kandy Perahera is one of Asia’s outstanding pageants and few can compare with it in antiquity, grandeur or barbaric splendor. The annual Kandy Perahera (Esala Perahera) is a religious ceremony Kandy Perahera during which devotees pray for good rains to cultivate the crops. Taking place once a year in Kandy, it is held for two weeks in July or August – the actual dates depending on the phases of the moon.
One of Buddhism’s most sacred relics, the Sacred Tooth is taken from the Temple the Tooth and paraded through the streets with the Kandy Perahera. Only a specially trained tusker is entrusted with the task of carrying the Tooth Relic. A white cloth is laid out for the tusker to tread on – when the men assigned to laying the cloth are sometimes delayed it can be seen that the tusker will not step on the bare ground. The Perahera with its gorgeously caparisoned elephants and ancient religious ritual provides a unique opportunity to see people from all parts of the island as they crowd into Kandy for the festivities. It is also an occasion to watch the famous Kandyan dancers and drummers perform in the streets and catch a glimpse of the island’s rich cultural and artistic past as re-enacted in a historic procession.